How much should you give?

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Donation Box and Red Heart


People often ask, “How much should I give to charity?”

The amount you decide to give is a personal decision and depends on your circumstances, but the simple answer is this: give as much as you can. There is always great need, and charities across the country struggle to raise funds. Here are a few of the things you’ll want to consider:

Have you made a giving plan? Taking the time to make a strategy about who to give to is the first step in deciding how much to give. Think about the causes you’re passionate about, and research organizations that fit your criteria. Do you want to support charities that work locally or globally? Do you want to support one charity or many?

Learning about all the incredible charities out there and the difference they make in the world is really inspiring and can change your lens on life – it also makes planning your giving a really satisfying experience!

Once you’ve decided who to support, you’ll need to decide how much you can give.

Start with 1% of your income.  If you’re new to charitable giving, 1% is a great place to start.  Deciding to give a percentage of your income allows you to give what you can, even if your income changes.  If you already give and live quite comfortably, challenge yourself to give an additional 1%. Often, the more you give, the more you realize you can afford!

Set-up automatic monthly giving. It’s easier to give more when you do it in small amounts. It’s just like buying your morning coffee: once you’re used to it, you don’t even think about it! Regular donations also make your expenses more predictable, and also help charities better plan their spending because they have reliable income.

Think of all the ways you can give.  Giving comes in all shapes and sizes and it all helps. Here are three ways to give you may not have considered:

  • Charities are always looking for volunteers of all skill levels.
  • You can make a gift of securities which has significant tax benefits.
  • Or, make a bequest in your Will. A bequest or planned gift is a beautiful way to leave a legacy, and a way you can help charities you care about one last time.

Don’t Forget the Tax Benefits. When making or re-evaluating your giving plan, remember to factor in the tax credits you’ll receive when you claim your charitable donations on your annual tax return. Taking into account how the money you’ll save on your tax bill can allow you to give more throughout the year. To help you determine how much you can save, we’ve created an easy-to-use tax calculator.

Review and revise your plan. Once you have a routine in place, it can be easy to forget your original motivation. Commit to reviewing your plan every 6-12 months, thinking about whether you’re still giving the right amount for you. Could you do more? Are there more charities whose work you value and would like to support? Or are the charities you’re already supporting meeting your expectations and would it make sense to give them more?

Giving back to your community and those in need is a great feeling because you’re helping to make a positive change in the world, and an impact on individual lives. The more you give and engage with charities and others pursuing a giving life, the more you’ll want to give.

There are no wiser words than those from the young Anne Frank: “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

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4 Responses to “How much should you give?”

  1. Philip Cockshutt

    Alas, CRA seem to equate generous donors with cheaters. We happily are in a position to donate about 10% of our income to charity, and CRA ask to audit our receipts about every second year. How do we convince them that we are not cheating?

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  2. Ross Whitelaw

    CRA also questions our giving as well. A tax lawyer told me that anyone who donates more than about 2.5% generates a second look. From that, CRA will pick the high givers to follow-up on. Since we have an accountant to do our business books, he does our personal tax returns as well and he keeps all our charitable receipts, etc. at the ready. More often than not he handles the audit.

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  3. Ron Knol

    1% as a start? A $50K/annum income should generate under $10/week in giving? That’s ludicrous! The world’s major religions (other than the gospel of consumerism) require greater generousity than that (e.g. Christianity and Judaism recommend a 10% “tithe”). And, in my province, my wife and I, as taxpayers, will receive charitable tax credits for about 49% of what we give. So, for us, a tithe should be 20%. I’d recommend 5% as a good ratio to start with. Once you get hooked on the “return on investment” provided by your favourite charities, that percentage will increase.

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  4. John Ilija Ilijevic

    Good article. Give regularly if you can; every little bit helps.

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